June 2005 Archives

You don't need $ to make a hot video as long as you have the right moves

A few reasons why this is one hell of a music video:

  1. Decent tune. It's in the current not-totally-mainstreamed-to-death-yet bracket. Barely.
  2. DIY. Cheap home camera, on a tripod or picnic table. Looks like iMovie for post prod, what post prod there was...
  3. Real. no set, no effects, no cliché scenario. Just four guys dancing.
  4. Coordination. What these guys saved on video expenses, they put into choreography and practice time.
  5. Four words: SINGLE TAKE. Holy crap.

via Ken, whom a year ago I told, in essence: "Ditch the goddamn $60k-videos-on-a-$20k budget. You have a digital video camera and a G4. Your expenses are covered. Go make some goddamn films!" (No I won't stop bringing that up. ;)

Contact form snafu

I just realized my contact form was busted. I received three blanks from it recently and just now decided to investigate - and fix.

Please, if you've tried contacting me via it in the last 2 weeks, give it one more go.

Sorry! :)

Well said.

Andrew continues to make me cheer with his canadian political commentary. His take on bill C-38, "C-38 is a uniter, not a divider", is well worth a read. (Bill C-38 is same-sex marriage legislation that just got passed in Canada.)

I especially like the zinger of a conclusion:

Tell me this: is Quebec's cultural distinction better protected when flanked by the US and a separate Conservative Canada, or when it's playing a major role in making Canada a just society that protects minority rights and upholds real freedoms?


Oh and Steven shares this little gem. :)

Been busy much?

I rarely talk about work here - and I will soon have a place to do only that - but I figure I should mention some of what's been keeping me busy lately.

Summer started with a bang really. On short notice I was flown down to Los Angeles to consult for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. That initial meeting was good and I have a funny story I may share at some later point. In any case, things with them are progressing slowly. While in Los Angeles, I also met with friends Scott Fisher and Justin Hall regarding the rebuilding of the University of Southern California's Interactive Media Department's website/weblog. That project officially started last week and I should be working on that instead of procrastination by blogging right now.

Shortly upon my return I got a call for help from Joi. Angelina Jolie and Gillian Caldwell from Witness were in Sierra Leone with some human rights recommendations they were to present to the president there. They had set up a TypePad weblog and needed it to look a bit better than just a plain default template. Voila.

Seeing they were infested with comment and trackback spam, I contacted and got authorization to install, setup and maintain spam fighting tools for both Lawrence Lessig and David Sifry's weblogs. Redesigns are pending and possibly forthcoming... ;)

Ejovi Nuwere, who's personal weblog's templates I cleaned up a little while ago as well, asked me to completely rebuild and redesign his InfoSecDaily website. In the process, it sorta became "our InfoSecDaily site"... more to come on that. (For the curious, take a glance at the original, before I got my paws on it.)

Later this week, hopefully, I am also launching my total rework of the Global Voices Online website. I am *really* happy to be working with the fantastic Rebecca MacKinnon, for who's North Korea Blog I also did some work, and awesome Ethan Zuckerman. They are doing some really important stuff at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School and I am happy, honored and humbled to be allowed the opportunity to help. I have a lot of ideas of things we can do together going forward...

(I've been meaning to reduce my use of such words as fantastic, awesome and "totally mindbending man", but in the above case they are warranted.)

Michael will tell you that I may pursue something with Witness as well, but I say we'll see how I do this...

Ok! Back to work! Slackers!

Fly, fly away

I retreated from the extreme heat here today to the little air conditioned café down the street. Sitting on the table I installed myself at was today's Globe & Mail. At the bottom of the front page (hah! I almost said "homepage!" Cripes.) is an ad for some Air Canada seat sales to Europe.

Amsterdam/Zurich, September 12th / October 16th : $449.00cnd!!!

Oh I could so do with a trip over right around then. Berlin, Vienna... mmmmmmm.
Too bad the Ars Electronica festival is exactly one week before the sale starts. :\

Public WiFi snoops

You can always tell the person running the network sniffer at public WiFi hotspots; the maniacal grin as he scans the room observing all the surfers one by one wondering "who was looking at *this*?"...

"I read your email"...

Test two

007, originally uploaded by gzcjun.

how come you're not in the pics?
no idea but my agent is SO fired.

Update: I would explain all this and why I am even leaving it up, cause it was a test and I happened to use this particular picture, which I had happened to be looking at because *someone* sent it to me... anyways, nekkid ladies are always nice to look at I suppose but some folks are sensitive and I can respect that so I have removed the image itself but will leave the post as a memory for myself cause it was funny. :)
Less funny is what Adriaan did to it. :p


Strange Mural, originally uploaded by steveyb.

Testing for Aaron... he asked me "can you post to mt from flickr?" This struck me as a funny question coming from someoen who works for flickr... but he meant me to test... Hey Aaron! They are making you work on St-Jean Baptiste?!?! Did you tell them it's your "national holiday"?? ;)

Money, death and the French

The word "mortgage", which is french, translates directly to "death bet": when the bank gives someone a mortgage, they are essentially gambling on the hopes that the poor sod will pay them back before he dies. In french however, a mortgage is called "une hypothèque", which, while I do not have the exact etymological information on hand, does have the same root as "hypothesis" and "hypothetical". So, 'hypothetically', he'd be paying them back before he "buys the farm", so to speak.

I suppose some frenchman at L'Academie at one point thought "mortgage" was a bit too morbid and blatant. Not that it matters; one has to pass a medical exam and have life insurance these days to get any money from a bank anyways, so it really isn't much of a gamble anymore, is it? Not much sportsmanship left in banking... and faith and trust never worked too well with financial matters to begin with.

Another such an example is "entrepreneur". Also a french word, literally translated it comes out as "between taker", but the meaning is "one who undertakes [something]"... or, put another way, an undertaker...

Go figure.

I'm watching you

Gen Kanai
Johnny Shoepainter
miyuki jane
Pete Barr-Watson
Jean Snow
Yuka Oishi
Ryou in the box

Del.icio.us hash

A month ago, joshua mentioned an easy breezy little addition one can do to one's site to allow users to easily del.icio.us bookmark entries on one's weblog.

In some cases though, you might like an easy way to see how many people, and who, has bookmarked an entry on your weblog.

But how!?

Del.icio.us hash, my friends, del.icio.us hash.

You know that little "and X other people" link under each del.icio.us entry? Click on it. See that string of weird string characters in the query string? That's an MD5 hash of the bookmarked URL.

What follows is the list of ideas -in sequence of how they came to me and I dismissed them - of how this could be implemented, and why each can't or shouldn't be. The last one is the best bet. I couldn't do any of these myself, except for one, since I can't code to save my life.

1- MT Plugin run from CRON
Hashes every permalink and checks it against del.icio.us, grabs the RSS feed for each and caches them "locally", parses them out for stats and outputs the numbers ("25 people think this is delicious!") into the templates via template tags.
The idea is based on Ado's excellent MT-Technorati plugin which does basically the same with Technorati. The problem is that del.icio.us is really really sensitive to "abusive behavior". Send it too many requests too quickly and joshua will hate you. Also, calculating that many MD5 hashes, retrieving that many RSS feeds and parsing them all and rebuilding them, every 10-15 minutes, puts a hella load on your server. Ferget it.

2- A simple MD5 hashed permalink link.
"Click here to see who del.icio.us'ed this entry!" style. No numbers, no fancy getting and parsing. Number of ways to do this, server side.
a) If you are running PHP you can just add a little call to it's built in MD5 function, feed it your permalink et voila.
<a href="http://del.icio.us/url/<?php md5('<$MTEntryPermalink$>');" title="is it delicious?">is it delicious?</a>
<a href="http://del.icio.us/url/<?php md5('the_permalink();');" title="is it delicious?">is it delicious?</a>

b) Abstract it away with some sort of plugin. In MT, this means that the MD5 hashing occurs at build time and is done by Perl. In WP's case, it's at page request time.

Problem: you have large amount of entries and lots of traffic. Every page request launches an MD5 hash request. System resources-wise, your server needs this like a hole in the head.

3- Client-side, Javascript baby!
Ohhh this could work. A simple JS function included in the header, called from the link:
<a href="#" title="is it delicious?" onclick="do_md5_link('<$MTEntryPermalink$>');">is it delicious?</a>
(any number of ways)

4- Client-side, AJAX/ScrumJAX baby!!!
Basically, do number one above but inline, in real time. On click, MD5 the URL, query del.ico.us for the RSS for the bookmarks of that URL, parse it out, pop a layer showing the number of hits and, whatever, say, the list of users who bookmarked it.

Any takers?

[thanks to Aaron for the hash and calling me a lazy pig-fucker.]

Day of tech failures...

I awoke to find that my main email server was not responding. It still isn't, 15 hours later. Best guestimate is that Bell Nexxia will fix the line "sometime in the next 24 to 72 hours." Wonderful.

As if that weren't enough, after weathering three hairy days of a SNAFU'ed PHP upgrade, my client hosting server is choking on something. Best guess by customer support is "your hard drive is full". Yeah right. "File a support ticket.. and admin will see it first thing in the morning."

Callign support, my cellphone started acting up too.

I don't even know if this entry will get posted. Guess there's nothing left for me to do but go to bed. Good thing I don't have a pacemaker...

Just a thought

(to be expanded on)

Is it not entirely possible that we are rapidly approaching the point in time where we will no longer have the resources and/or organizational stability to save ourselves from our then inevitable extinction?

In other words, the point where it will no longer be possible for us to escape this planet before we strip it entirely.

Drunk with our own greed, we fought while the boat sank.

Pour être bien précis

Je ne vous propose pas de partir en affaires avec moi, mais bien que nous allions nos forces de sorte de nous procurer les moyens de vivre confortablement à notre gré, en faisant non seulement ce que nous connaissons et aimons faire, mais aussi de manière de faire quelque bien dans le monde.

Le reste, c'est des détails. ;)

Now they've done it

del.icio.us adds filetype tags automatically to media files.

I could go into boring things like implicit metadata, the coupling of a flat tag pool with a flat:hierarchical:organization... but really, there are more fun things that come out of this.

Like, for example, discovering a spoof of the ending of the movie Se7en involving The Shat brilliantly playing himself in three roles, a stunning demo video from inside Sony's computer sciences lab of some futuristic UI (especially cool is the "hyper dragging" in the closing seconds), and Triumph the Insult Dog unleashed (hehe) at the Michael Jackson trial.

Who needs TV?
Who needs radio?

Go, make your own channels...


Mainly because this is teh funniest promo copy I have ever seen for a bar night... Kudos Murad.



selections by the dj fighters
chaperoned by murad




UNESCO slaps U.S. & WTO's wrist, fighting to preserve cultural exception

This is a few days old, but I didn't see it anywhere else. (Found in Sylvain's del.icio.us stream)
French article and it's Google MangleTranslation.

I'll try to un-mangle the more salient parts:

After two weeks of negotiations, involving 500 experts from 130 countries and coming at the end of two years of often difficult deliberations, the ad hoc intergovernmental committee formed by UNESCO unanimously adopted, with the exception of the U.S.A. and Israel, the final text of "a convention for the protection of the diversity of cultural content and artistic expression".

This means a few things, if I understand correctly:

1- Cultural and artistic "products" would be hands-off for any WTO laws/resolutions
2- Governments are thus free to circumvent traditional "free-market rules" in order to protect their culture(s). Essentially it is permission for protectionist market tactics; in this case a good thing (as opposed to political protectionism of culture).
3- America's extreme anger at this (almost assured) adoption stems from the fact that they want nothing more than to export their cultural products as far and wide as possible, and the seemingly rock solid belief that a free-market economy can do no wrong.

The sad thing in all this is the necessity to view cultural production as an industry, and it's fruits as products. The line between art and entertainment is so incredibly blurred...

Some more points:

Culture is valued as a means of exchange, development and social cohesion. "Cultural diversity is an essential resource of a society's cultural capital, as biodiversity is crucial natural capital [of an ecosystem]". States are implored to favor, "by a multiplicity of means", the diversity of "the cultures of social groups and societies."

The Americans were generally unhappy with the participation of the Europeans, denying them recognition of any competence in cultural matters (!!!). [Keep in mind there were 500 representatives from 130 countries from around the world. China, Brazil, Mexico and India in particular were also very outspoken and in opposition to the U.S.'s position.]
The U.S. is categorically denying rumors that they are threatening to pull the plug on UNESCO financing in retribution for this, what they consider a slap in the face.

It's damn hot

So Karl and I moved from the sweatlodge-like Laika to the air conditioned Java-U on St-Denis where Oblivia was.

Logging into the free wifi network I spot something familiar in the URL. "Helloooo... what's this..."


I made this! A long long time ago.

Related: sometime last week, Barlow appeared in my buddy list with the status line "wifi on a Lufthansa 747!". There too he would have seen my handiwork, as the APs I worked on are OEMed to the company that provides Boeing with in-cabin WiFi. So, if you find yourself on a Boeing with WiFi, spark up your web browser, surf over to and think of me... ;)
(And flickr it!! yeah!)

Parking meter hack challenge

Steven launches a challenge to local hackers and their friends: Hack the new Linux-running, GPRS-networked parking meters.

1- Show that it can be done
2- Perhaps help improve the system
3- Perhaps send a message up: "hey, we KNOW you're screwing us"
4- because it's there... ;)

Michael, wanna help plug this? Put it out there see what happens...

Two very useful things I'd like to see come of this:
1- a java-based mobile app that would allow me to see which spots still "have time".
2- a web-based app that could remotely tell me the same (so I can be sitting in a meeting and check if my meter is up yet...)


Hah, I just noticed the theme in my last two posts. What a totally unconscious coincidence...

I want more Cornelius in my day

Suddenly realized I hadn't heard any new music from Cornelius in a while, so I popped over to his site.


Poking around, I found this little film he did the music for. Sugoi.

with James Brown!

So... New album? Joi, can you ask? ;)
And still no weblog?! Tsk tsk tsk...

It's all in the eyes


Happy birthday Murad. :)

Linux + GPRS in parking meters


Steven gives us the lowdown on the fancy-pantsy new high-tech networked evil machi... er I mean parking meters in Montreal.

Where does the night go?

You know how some afternoons just zip by? One minute you just finished lunch and the next it's 4:30...

Some nights are like that too. Just a few moments ago I was walking up St-Laurent amid the Thursday night partiers and Grand Prix riff raff, and zip! It's a pale, bright and drizzly friday morning. I'm gonna go for another walk, before it becomes unbearably hot and humid again. I'll sleep then. ;)


Nous avons eu raison. Quand nous avons dit en début de mars que "les weblogs, c'est fini".

Avec un surplus d'attention et de nourissement, l'accroissement rapide et massif eu totallement et complètement transformé l'organisme qu'était le weblog, ainsi que l'environment dans lequel il existat.

(Pour les entrepreneurs, la réalité de la chose vit dans l'argent. Illusion to-ta-le, mais bon; que la bulle s'éclate comme d'habitude. C'est toujours bien d'avoir certains cycles dont on peut faire confiance. La stupidité humaine nous en procure assez...)

Le changement et les transitions n'étant jamais faciles, tous les deux nous avons dernièrement ressentis les après-choques. C'est normal. Quand un groupe s'aggrandit, les philosophies et les politiques s'entre-choquent. ;)

En termes "McLuhanistes", le renversement a eu lieu: la blogosphère qui se crut ouverte à tous et à tout, se trouve maintenant balkanisée, avec chaque jour de plus en plus de portes fermées. L'obsolescence est à deux pas avec les nouveaux systèmes de partage que nous connaissons et utilisons déjà quotidiennement.

C'est excitant!

Ce site sera reconfiguré, temps le permettant. J'ai de nouveau mandats avec un certain groupe de Harvardiens et je crois que j'en ai fini de parler et penser de technologies juste pour parler et penser de technologies. À quoi bon ça sert si on s'en sert que pour du blah blah.

Et cet automne j'espère enfin me retrouver à Tokyo. Au moins en visite! Hah. Tu viens? ;)

Shall wonders never cease?

Two words, people:

transparent duct tape.

Ok, ok, that's three words...

Torrential ninjas

Two days ago, I had this ninja movie, Red Shadow, coming in on BitTorrent at, like, 450k/s ... it was sooooo sweet... I was really pumped. Then at 64% the only seeder disconnected. I thought I was totally gonna flip out and kill people... but he just came back on... That is so totally awesome. I can feel it in my ...

Real ninjas love bittorrent... it's the best place to get films of other ninjas totally flipping out and killing people all the time...

it is so totally awesome. and that's a fact. I am really pumped. Now I just need to get hooked up with fries.

[for this to make any sense, if indeed there is any sense to it, you must see this.]

[yes, I know it's old. it still makes me giggle uncontrollably... as does this. Ooooooooo.]

It is done

"transition isn't going to be overnight, this time next year plan is to ship Macs with intel processors, complete transition by end of 2006."
Every release of OS has been compiled for intel x86 for the last 5 years - cross platform by design. All demos up to this point have been done on an intel proc.

What do I think?

"Gimme a blazing (fast, not hot) PowerBook, and I don't care how you do it."

Just don't call it Brussel sprouts!

"Economic democracy" is a powerful concept in all kinds of ways both in its ambiguity as well as its linkages. There's a lot that goes with it practically and theoretically--and it should become a very familiar concept to the broader public and as part of the mainstream political discussion... it doesn't have to be framed in a purist way --which has been done by the utopians and marginal advocates for the approach--but as a continuoum--that begins with a little bit of democracy (active and honest consultation with the workforce) all the way to the full program--cooperatives and a fully integrated economic and political system...

The maxim "those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it" has a more positive cousin it seems: "if your kids don't want to eat their Brussel sprouts, call them little green leafy potatoes"... ;)

Tasty Brussel sprouts from Marx's garden! yay! Sounds ok to me.

Summer finally pulled up


After two truly miserable weeks that finished off May, and a generally unpleasant spring, summer finally showed up today. Warm, sunny, pleasantly perfumed breeze... green grass and leaves...

So I went for my run, only my second this season, stretched out my way-way-too-white self in the grass of the summit park and reread the Dhammapada.

It's incredible how much a few months of freezing cold makes me forget. :(

Despite the sunlight and warmth, getting out of bed this "morning" was excruciatingly painful. More so than it has been in a long long time. For no apparent reason, I just did not want to get up and every inch of my body and every node of my mind fought a war to keep me lying there. It hurt.

So I hereby institute my modular dynamic summer schedule system.

First of all, no more than 6 hours sleep a night - as opposed to my current overly gluttonous 9 hours - unless absolutely necessary and/or warranted. This will allow for late night working, day-time enjoying, interspersed with early morning café-going and all night party binges. Since I DO actually have clients in EST, regular business hours for that time-zone will be more than accommodated by the afternoon hours... by appointment. Hah. Kidding. No, but really, it being all so dynamic and modular and what not, I can quite comfortably juggle all this. I did it last summer... no really...

While this all seems gleefully cheerful, lest yea be warned I have been in somber spirits of late. All is not so well; thanks for your concern, I'll be fine, eventually, as always. Just watch what you say to me... ;)